How can the channel help businesses mobilise their workforce?
For companies of all sizes, mobility is fast becoming crucial in helping CEOs grow their businesses. Indeed, research firm MarketsandMarkets predicted that the managed mobility services market will grow from $4.6 billion in 2016 to $19.4 billion by 2021.
The latest employment trends survey from CBI found that more than four in five UK businesses see flexible employment practices as critically important in enabling them to respond rapidly to growth opportunities. Many companies are looking towards the channel to help them mobilise their workforce, and in turn the channel has to ensure they’re providing businesses with the best possible options in which to do so.
The CBI survey also found that SMEs face a number of obstacles to implementing flexible working across the business, including practical problems posed by company infrastructure, the mind-set of some managers and the need to ensure continuity in business activities. The channel should be mindful that SMEs are slow to mobilise workers who use business-critical applications. They have begun investing in software that allows certain ‘on the road’ employees to work remotely with ease – such as field sales reps. However, there are still significant facets of the workforce that are chained to their desks, such as HR, payroll and finance. Many businesses aren’t aware that these processes can be both streamlined and mobilised using business process management software.
The channel has a responsibility to ensure that business IT users across the company can experience the same level of mobility. As the popularity of mobility increases, the way companies are buying IT is changing too. Value-Added Resellers (VARs) who have focused on a hardware resale model are waking up to the mobile opportunity, but more can be done to ‘add value’. Those that put time and effort into helping customers explore mobile strategy, consolidate systems and build platforms around mobile apps will achieve the greatest return. Rather than adopting a “My customers are asking me about a mobile CRM solution for sales reps. I’ll call my distributor and order one,” VARs should look at the bigger picture and lead the customer with a consultative approach, rather than the other way around.
One such way of doing so could be to promote software such as mobile ERP. Vendors are increasingly offering simple ways to generate tailor-made mobile apps for everyone who uses business-critical applications, whether they’re in payroll or out in the field. For example, those handling customer service calls can generate a bespoke app which enables them to easily track both sales, stock levels and deliveries, allowing them to provide customers with the most accurate, up-to-date information, at any time and from wherever they’re working from.
A great place to start the mobile strategy conversation is to say, “What does your business want to achieve and how can mobile devices help you get there?” Only then can the IT channel help companies build their policies around core outcomes to achieve business transformation, instead of addressing the needs of a fraction of the workforce.
Efrat Nakibly is VP marketing, Priority Software